‘Urban body can’t shy away from its statutory responsibility’

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) over its failure to protect and rejuvenate the Yamuna floodplains, despite several orders of the green panel.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the urban body could not “shy away” from its statutory responsibility of rejuvenating the river, and said, “DDA must forthwith comply with the earlier direction instead of finding lame excuses and taking stand of avoiding public duty.”

Dedicated agency

“We find that the stand of the DDA, that a special agency [by whatever name called] to deal with the protection of floodplains and undertaking restoration programmes cannot be constituted by it, to be wholly untenable. A dedicated agency needs to be in place which can focus on issues relating to the Yamuna rejuvenation and also involve civil society or such other experts,” the Bench held.

The State governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were also directed to take further action in terms of recommendations made by an NGT-appointed committee and said that the compliance will be overseen by the respective Chief Secretaries.

The Yamuna monitoring committee was also directed to monitor compliance of the directions in continuance of its earlier working.

Land unavailability

“The issue raised by the committee of the unavailability of land preventing setting up of STPs may be addressed by the DDA and monitored by the principal committee. Having regards to the priority to be given to the treatment of sewage disposal in the drains joining river Yamuna, the land available on the floodplains may be utilised for the purpose, if there is no other alternative or till land becomes available,” the Bench said.

Further, the green panel added, “Yamuna rejuvenation can be [a] model for rejuvenation of 351 river stretches in the country given its location in the national capital territory where all experts, authorities and funds are available.”

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